puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ˈpə-zəl \
puzzled; puzzling\ ˈpə-​zə-​liŋ , ˈpəz-​liŋ \

Definition of puzzle 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to offer or represent to (someone) a problem difficult to solve or a situation difficult to resolve : challenge mentally also : to exert (oneself, one's mind, etc.) over such a problem or situation they puzzled their wits to find a solution

2 archaic : complicate, entangle

3 : to solve with difficulty or ingenuity puzzle out an answer to a riddle

intransitive verb

1 : to be uncertain as to action or choice

2 : to attempt a solution of a puzzle by guesswork or experiment puzzle over the mystery

puzzle

noun

Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the state of being puzzled : perplexity

2a : something that puzzles

b : a question, problem, or contrivance designed for testing ingenuity

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Other Words from puzzle

Verb

puzzler \ ˈpə-​zə-​lər , ˈpəz-​lər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for puzzle

Verb

puzzle, perplex, bewilder, distract, nonplus, confound, dumbfound mean to baffle and disturb mentally. puzzle implies existence of a problem difficult to solve. the persistent fever puzzled the doctor perplex adds a suggestion of worry and uncertainty especially about making a necessary decision. a behavior that perplexed her friends bewilder stresses a confusion of mind that hampers clear and decisive thinking. a bewildering number of possibilities distract implies agitation or uncertainty induced by conflicting preoccupations or interests. distracted by personal problems nonplus implies a bafflement that makes orderly planning or deciding impossible. the remark left us utterly nonplussed confound implies temporary mental paralysis caused by astonishment or profound abasement. the tragic news confounded us all dumbfound suggests intense but momentary confounding; often the idea of astonishment is so stressed that it becomes a near synonym of astound. was at first too dumbfounded to reply

Noun

mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation. the mystery of the stone monoliths problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern. problems created by high technology enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret. his suicide remains an enigma riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction. the riddle of the reclusive pop star puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution. the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

Examples of puzzle in a Sentence

Verb

The cause of the accident has puzzled investigators. it is the cause of the disease that puzzles doctors

Noun

a book of puns, riddles, and puzzles the final fate of the colonists at Roanoke remains a puzzle to this very day
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This research suggests that doctors should do genetic workups in puzzling cases of serious infection, Meyts says. Claudia Wallis, Scientific American, "Extreme Flu? Weird Encephalitis? It May Be Your Genes," 13 July 2018 On this trip, there was a defensive lineman, Mike Jones, from North Carolina State, who puzzled the Cowboys. SI.com, "Peter King’s Favorite Stories, from SI and The MMQB," 28 May 2018 The arrests have been puzzling for their timing — occurring just weeks before the driving ban is set to be lifted. Loveday Morris, Washington Post, "In harsh Saudi crackdown, famous feminists are branded as ‘traitors’," 19 May 2018 But Goedert, a two-time unanimous All-American in the Football Championship Subdivision, could be the name to puzzle casual fans on Thursday night. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "Five players who could be surprise first-round selections in 2018 NFL draft," 26 Apr. 2018 What makes some sense in micro can still be puzzling in macro. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "Trade Grades: Charlotte, Chicago and Orlando Complete Pragmatic Three-Team Trade," 8 July 2018 After the meeting, Elena Verdù, a gastroenterologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, puzzled over the polarization of the field. Kelly Servick, Science | AAAS, "What’s really behind ‘gluten sensitivity’?," 23 May 2018 Nicole Murray, a 24-year-old Philadelphia woman who went missing in December, was found dead in the Poconos Friday, and her family is searching for answers about her puzzling final days. Aubrey Nagle, Philly.com, "Starbucks protests continue, Temple suspends frat, Flyers end playoff run | Morning Newsletter," 23 Apr. 2018 Since March 12, across a pivotal 11-game stretch, Florida went 5-5-1, including a trio of puzzling losses to lottery teams Ottawa (twice) and Edmonton. Matthew Defranks, Sun-Sentinel.com, "How Panthers' hard-charging playoff push hit a wall," 1 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Another piece of the millennial puzzle at Workday is extensive data analysis. Ed Frauenheim, Fortune, "How Workday Became One of the Best Places to Work for Millennials," 26 June 2018 The Coyotes still need another winger This question is, in a lot of ways, connected to the Strome puzzle. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes' improved reputation among 5 observations after the opening of free agency," 2 July 2018 These changes are a start, not a solution, to the longevity puzzle. WSJ, "Is There a Limit to the Human Lifespan?," 24 June 2018 This study represents a new piece to this long-standing puzzle. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "Is Pluto Actually a Mash-up of a Billion Comets?," 30 May 2018 Barnhart’s autopsies are key pieces to that puzzle. Rick Jervis, USA TODAY, "Smashed supplies, crumpled bodies: Medical examiner describes 'shocking' scene at Texas school shooting," 25 May 2018 The images are especially significant to Gambino's puzzle. Jason Parham, WIRED, "Childish Gambino's 'This Is America' and the New Shape of Protest Music," 9 May 2018 Now, a team of researchers from institutions in Tasmania, Australia, and Japan may have added one more piece to the puzzle. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Antarctic Glaciers Are Helping Drive Their Own Melt," 20 Apr. 2018 The answer to the puzzle is that American power turned out to be a double-edged sword. Alex Ward, Vox, "Why America doesn’t win wars anymore," 9 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'puzzle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of puzzle

Verb

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for puzzle

Verb

origin unknown

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Statistics for puzzle

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for puzzle

The first known use of puzzle was in 1582

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More Definitions for puzzle

puzzle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to confuse (someone) : to be difficult for (someone) to understand

puzzle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a question or problem that requires thought, skill, or cleverness to be answered or solved

: something or someone that is difficult to understand

puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ˈpə-zəl \
puzzled; puzzling

Kids Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : confuse sense 1, perplex The mysterious phone call puzzles me.

2 : to solve by thought or by clever guessing She tried to puzzle out the crime.

puzzle

noun

Kids Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a question, problem, or device intended to test skill or cleverness

3 : something that perplexes : mystery

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Comments on puzzle

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